For Paris lovers, there’s never a bad time to be in the City of Light. But many of us who regularly visit Paris find that, over time, we develop a soft spot for the city in winter. While Paris at Christmastime, when it truly sparkles, needs no selling, the city also has much to offer in the other wintry months of January and February, when it can have an unfair reputation for being grey and gloomy. Here are ten reasons why you might want to consider a Paris holiday early in the year …
1. You can fully appreciate the architecture. When the leaves are stripped from the chestnut and plane trees that line the city’s streets, it’s all the easier to zone in on, and admire, the intricate details, such as the lace-like patterns of the wrought-iron balconies; the carved stone garlands and scrolls that pretty up the of the classical façades; the elegant fluted pilasters; and, the sweet dormer windows that poke out from the sloping Mansard roofs.
2. The city’s colour palette in winter is beautifully easy on the eye. There’s all that honey-hued stone, for one, and the grey zinc rooftops, but it’s also about the softer winter light. Everything seems to blur together to create a harmonious quality. It feels somehow consoling to the senses. That makes winter a particularly perfect time if you need any kind of emotional healing. Broken hearted? Paris in winter might be the soul-soothing treatment that you need.
3. That said, Paris in winter is also utterly romantic. You can cuddle en terrasse under the provided blankets, sipping sweet, rich blends of chocolat chaud, indulge in heart-warming meals in charming, cosy restaurants, and stroll the misty streets arm-in-arm.
4. Walking is, of course, one of the classic Parisian pleasures, and well suited to winter, when the crowds are sparser, and the streets feel more your own. It also suits a solo holiday, for Parisian-style walking — flâneur-ing, let’s call it — allows you to go at your own pace, twisting and turning as the fancy takes you, letting serendipity and spontaneity be your guide.
5. If all that walking sounds too much like hard work … winter is also for lingering in brasseries and bistros for long hearty lunches. And some restaurants are so exquisite that a meal here practically doubles as a cultural activity. Of course, you can also cosy up for your culture fix within the city’s many museums, especially the smaller ones, which are pleasantly spacious, and seem so much more special, without the spring and summer crowds.
6. Winter also lends itself to sartorial pursuits … It’s when you really want to dress up in Paris, playing up to the glamour of the city in plush layers and deep, jewel shades. Click here for some suitcase-packing inspiration.
7. What’s more, the winter sales are on from mid-January to early February. So, if you don’t yet have your ultimate winter coat or knee-high boots, or need a new wardrobe of scarves and hats, this is the perfect place and time for you.
8. You might get snow! It’s not an annual event, granted, but if you’re lucky enough to wake up to snowfall, one of the best ways to spend the day is in Montmartre, where the historic streets and stairways seem to turn into scenes from old black & white postcards, and where you can admire stunning snow-dusted rooftop views. And if it rains instead … well then, the City of Light glows all the more!
9. You might also spot early blossoms. From late January, look out for flowering plum trees, some of which can be found on the Champ de Mars, making for a gorgeous detail in your Eiffel Tower photos. The city’s magnolia trees can also start to bloom from mid-February, most spectacularly within the gardens of the Palais-Royal.
10. Alternatively, there are always January’s bouquets of mimosa, which burst from the city’s florists and splash a wintry Paris with sunny pops of colours. It might just remind you of Albert Camus’ famous quote: ‘In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.’ And remind you to always look for the bright side. Because while, for many, January and February are doom and gloom, Paris lovers know that beauty can always be found.